Imágenes de páginas
PDF

ceeding age has ever improved upon; for it appears to me evident, that the temples of the Greeks and Romans, erected in after ages, were comparatively plain and humble copies of the perfect originals which they found in Syria and Palestine, and which still remain as vouchers to the present day. Mr. Wood, in his account of the ancient state of Balbec, remarks as follows:– “When we compare the ruins of Balbec with those of many ancient cities which we visited in Italy, Greece, Egypt, and other parts of Asia, we cannot help thinking them the remains of the boldest plan we ever saw attempted in architecture. Is it not strange then, that the age and undertaker of works, in which solidity and duration have been so remarkably consulted, should be a matter of such obscurity, that from all we have been able to learn, we cannot give entire satisfaction on that head." In my humble opinion, the authentic accounts which I have already adduced from the sacred records and from the Jewish historian, Josephus, contain lights amply sufficient to dispel this obscurity; but Mr. Wood appears entirely to have overlooked them, and to have only directed his researches to the records of the Greeks and Romans, who have nothing in history upon which any reliance ought to be placed, earlier than four or five hundred years posterior to the death of Solomon; nor is it at all unreasonable to believe, that the Hebrews, among whom originated the most perfect code of laws, the finest moral maxims, and whose poetry is admitted by the best judges, to excel that of all other nations, in grace, elegance and sublimity, should likewise have excelled all others in the beauty, regularity, and grandeur of their architectural forms. I now proceed to a consideration of my second proposition, concerning the Zodiac of Palmyra. An honored friend of mine, several years ago, stated his belief, that the regular representation of the Zodiac, as it now exists, originated with the Hebrews, and that the human figures sculptured within the circumference of this Zodiac, represent the Hebrew patriarchs and their wives; and I confess that after an attentive consideration of the subject, I entirely coincide in opinion with him; for I think they are clearly identified by the emblematic signs placed under each; and which, as it seems to me, plainly refer to events and circumstances connected with their lives, as recorded in sacred history. I proceed to distinguish and explain each as represented in the annexed sketch of this Zodiac. ABRAHAM—the venerable and manly form placed in the centre.—Josephus, speaking of him, says, “He communicated to the Egyptians arithmetic, and delivered to them the science of astronomy; for, before Abram came into Egypt, they were unacquainted with those parts of learning." ARIES.—Isa Ac, on the right of Sarah, and below him a Ram, in allusion to the one caught in the thicket at his memorable offering. TAURUs.—This, being the next in succession to...Aries, the sign of Isaac, is emblematical of strength, in allusion to the unequalled strength of the faith of both Abraham and Isaac at the offering, so pathetically described in the book of Jasher. It may likewise allude to the powerful temptations with which both were beset previous to the offering, as related in the same book.-Thesame figureismetaphorically applied by David, when placed in very trying circumstances. “Many Bulls have encompassed me; strong Bulls of Bashan have beset me around.— They opened their mouths against me as a ravening roaring lion,”—Psal. 22. GEMINI-SARAH, below Abraham, with a representation of two boys with outstretched arms, as if in the act of striving with each other—probably alluding to the enmity borne by Ishmael to Isaac, as mentioned in the book of Jasher—and likewise to that passage in Genesis, in which it is declared, that “Ishmael would be a wild man—his hand against every man, and every man's hand against him.” CANCER.—The Crab–The Hebrew word Karav, or Krab, means war; and likewise to seize, or take hold. The Akrab, (Scorpion) in its form, resembles a species of the genus, Cancer: either is sufficiently expressive of the character of Ishmael and his descendants, the Arabs. Nature has provided the Crab with a kind of armour for defence, and two formidable weapons for assault. Leo.—The figure of Rebecca, on the left of SARAH, is distinguished by twelve rays surrounding her head, and by the Lion below her, alluding to her son Jacob or Israel, who was the great father of the heads of the twelve tribes. Balaam, speaking of the power and majesty of Israel, says, “He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion; who shall stir him up 2" Virgo—The figure with wings, called the Virgin, holding out a Palm branch, being in connexion with, or immediately succeeding, the sign Leo, the emblem of Judah, seems to prefigure, that from this tribe would proceed the Messiah to give the covenant of PEACE to the world. LIBRA.—On the left of Rebecca is LEAH, with a Crescent on her head, in allusion to the emblem of the Moon, applied to her in Joseph's dream, as that of the Sun was applied to her husband. The Scales, below her, referring to her sons Levi and Judah, to whose tribes were given the government, and the administration of the LAws. Scorpio.—The next sign in succession to the Scales of Justice: the Scorpion, significantly points out the stings of conscience which follow disobedience, or a violation of the divine laws. SAGITTARIUs.—On the left of Leah, and on the right of Jacob, is RACHEL.-She is represented with wings on her head. Among the Hebrews, wings were figurative of spiritual, or heavenly existences, or appearances. The Jews have a tradition, and the same thing is mentioned in the book of Jasher, that her son Joseph, in his affliction, when the Ishmaelites were taking him down to Egypt, visited her grave; and that her spirit appeared, or spoke words of consolation and encouragement to him. The sign of the ..Archer under this figure, alludes to the words which Jacob on his death-bed addressed to Joseph.-‘‘The Archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him; but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighly God of Jacob.” CAPRicornus.—This figure, with the head of a GoAt and the tail of a Fish, connected in succession with the sign of Joseph, significantly alludes to the character and designs of Potiphar’s wife, and the severe temptations which he virtuously and triumphantly overcame, under the trying circumstances in which he was placed. AquaRIUs.—This sign is placed under the figure of JAcob, which is on the right of Isaac, and evidently alludes to the next great event in Hebrew history, namely, the going down with his family to Egypt, which country is signified by the figure of the Nile: this figure exactly resembles the image of the Nile, which was brought by Vespasian out of Egypt, and is, I believe, still to be seen in Rome.—Sandy's Travels, page 74. Pisces.—The next great event was the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, and the tremendous catastrophe that befel Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea. The representation of two Fishes hooked and connected together by a line, are strikingly allusive to the entanglement and overthrow of the Fgyptians in the sea. To this great event, God, by the prophet Ezekiel, seems to allude in the following denunciation against the last of the Pharaohs. “I will put my hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of the rivers to stick unto thy scales, and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick to thy scales; and I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness,” &c. chap. XXIX, 4, 5. This literally took place at the Eacodus—the dead bodies of the Egyptians were thrown up by the waves on the shore of the desert. Now with regard to the position of the signs in this Zodiac, I suppose that the heads of the eagles point out the intersections of the Colures and the Ecliptic, and that the eastern limit of the constellation of Aries, on the Ecliptic, at the period to which the Zodiac refers, was exactly in the Vernal Equinox. In the present year of 1830, the same point of Aries precedes the same Equinox by about 52 degrees, which, reduced to seconds, amount to 187,200. By comparing the longitudes of the four stars, Spica, Castor, Regulus, and Aldebaran, as computed by Ptolemy for the first year of the reign of Antoninus Pius, with the longitudes of the same stars, as laid down from observation by Tycho, for the year of the Christian era, 1601, I find the annual precession to be about 534 seconds—therefore lo gives 3,499; this deducted from 5,591, the present age of the world, according to the Jewish calendar, leaves 2,092, for the year of the world corresponding with the position of the signs represented in this Zodiac; being the 144th of the life of Abraham. Absolute exactness, in a case such as this, cannot be expected; because the quantity of the annual precession of the signs is not precisely known; it may be a little under, or over, the above statement. My computation, however, along with the other circumstantial evidence adduced in support of this, my second proposition, convince me, that this beautiful Zodiac was placed in the palace, by the incomparable builder, as a monument commemorative of the faithful and majestic Abraham, and of the other distinguished characters and events which I have described. Kircher and some others held, that the history and destinies of the Hebrews were to be read in the starry firmament: and it seems to me probable, that this notion may have originated from this hieroglyphical history delineated by Solomon in his beautiful Zodiac.

« AnteriorContinuar »